Appropriate monitoring of the project should ensure that progress is as agreed and that there are no unpleasant surprises. As commissioner it is your responsibility to ensure that the outcome is of the nature and quality that was expected and that any changes are clearly understood and agreed. Remember you should not be afraid to put a project on hold if you have serious concerns about the potential outcome.
You should consider how often the project manager or steering group meets with the artist to see work in progress. In the case of a simple project then informal meetings or telephone conversations to check progress might be sufficient but in most cases it is good practice to identify a number of milestones in the project to trigger meetings. There should be some obvious key points that emerge as you are drawing up the project schedule. Examples of milestones might be:
- Detailed costing.
- Final design/technical specification.
- Completion of model/maquette.
- Before or after consultation process.
- Key stages of fabrication.
- Completion of work prior to installation.
Depending on timescale and nature of the project it may be more appropriate to schedule regular, e.g. monthly progress meetings in advance.
Major construction projects will probably utilise the RIBA Plan of Work Stages, which may have an influence on the artwork production process.
Site visits may be an important part of the design process and should ideally take place early on. They also offer good opportunities for artist and commissioner to meet and discuss the project informally during the visit.
At a minimum it would be useful to have monitoring meetings to coincide with stages in the payment schedule.
Documentation, particularly visual documentation is an important element of any project, as a way of being able to check and demonstrate progress to interested parties and also as a part of the evaluation and learning process. Documentation can start as early as the point of short-listing and selection. Most artists will document projects for their own portfolios but it is worth checking that they are doing this and perhaps building in the cost of an additional set of images for your records. You may wish to document the project yourself if you have time. Again, depending on the nature and importance of the project you may wish to employ a professional photographer to undertake this work on your behalf. The important thing is to ensure that someone is doing it.